Sunset Park residents and Community Board 7 (CB 7) members are calling for the neighborhood’s namesake park to create a dog run as well as to clean up what they describe as people’s abuse of the park grounds.
These topics were addressed during CB 7’s Parks Committee meeting on Tuesday June 8.
Tannise Palmer of the city Department of Parks and Recreation said that dogs are allowed in the park, but not in the playground area. Parks has also locked the fence in the park near Sixth Avenue and 41st Street due to people letting their dogs run around the area.
“We do have off-leash hours from 9p.m. to 9 a.m.,” she said during the meeting. “I know there have been a large group of people who have been taking their dogs into the fenced-off area which is not where they are allowed to be, so we put a sign on that area and locked the gate so people don’t use the area.”
The decision made some residents angry, including board member Zachary Jasie.
“When we got the funding to build those fences and had them built, it was explicitly laid out that those pieces of property are supposed to be open, not to the discretion of your park police whether or not you’re going to lock that gated area,” he said. “The outright aggression towards dog owners in the park now is not at all what this community has set up to accomplish.”
“It’s not a playground area,” said member Johanna Bjorken. “It’s a large area of the park, and I don’t understand why dogs wouldn’t be allowed in that fenced area. We have a lot of people with dogs in Sunset Park.”
Parks responded that the area was locked up due to people using it as a dog run despite it not being a designated area and deemed as an inappropriate site.
Chris Yandoli, director of capital projects for NYC Parks in Brooklyn, said that for a dog run to be in the park, the agency would need capital funding.
“When you envision a dog run, it’s not just putting up some temporary fencing and having an area for dogs to run,” he said. “We do extensive drainage work to make sure that the site is properly drained of any dog waste. There is site grading that happens. We have to take into account the trees that are in the area and things like that. Then we need to identify funding.”
He recommended the best course of action is to take a vote as a board or get signatures and get community support. Then tell the elected officials sources of capital funding the desire to have a dog run.
Public drinking, urination
Poor conditions were also a main topic, including people drinking alcohol and public urination.
“I’m worried about mothers coming in and out with their kids going to the park and these people are relieving themselves,” said CB 7 board member Silvia Agosto. “They don’t care. It’s out of control. It’s gotten so ugly.”
“You guys are letting this park get away from you,” Jasie said. “It’s filthy, there’s human feces everywhere. People are urinating all over the place, and you guys decide you want to take a war on dog owners. It doesn’t make sense.”
Parks representatives stated that parks enforcement personnel are addressing the issues and are working with NYPD to stop public intoxication, urinating and other matters.
“We aren’t just targeting dog owners, but that’s part of their enforcement,” Palmer said.